Chuks Okocha and Onwuka Nzeshi
The National Assembly members have always been ill at ease with the penchant of the Executive arm to ignore or to not implement their resolutions.
The Executive has always seen motions passed by the lawmakers as merely advisory and therefore not binding on it.
But the lawmakers are now poised to go on the offensive on the issue.
The National Assembly, THISDAY learnt, may embark on a legislative procedure that will force President Goodluck Jonathan to implement its resolutions.
The decision to go for the new legislative procedure followed last week’s remarks by Information Minister Labaran Maku that the lawmakers' resolution asking the President to halt the idea of introducing N5000 bank note was a mere advice which was not binding.
THISDAY authoritatively learnt that under the new legislative plan, the National Assembly would embed their resolutions with bill that are under consideration by them.
Legal practitioners are, however, divided on the constitutionality as well as the propriety of such a move by the National Assembly to attach resolutions as ‘riders’ to bills in order to ensure their implementation.
A top officer in the National Assembly who spoke with THISDAY said, “I can authoritatively inform you that the Senate is currently looking at ways to evolve new legislative procedures to get the Executive branch to enforce the National Assembly resolutions.
“This is constitutional and would merely allow the National Assembly to give legislative weight to its resolutions...as a ‘Rider’.”
According to him, “A rider is an additional provision added to a bill or other matters under consideration by the legislature, having little or no connection with the subject matter of the bill”.
The source added: “Simply put...if the National Assembly wants Mr. President to hear it, then, being proactive and attaching all the National Assembly resolutions to various Executive bills under consideration by the National Assembly must be the way forward to engage and enforce their resolutions.
“The Executive must either accept the riders or reject the entire bill. The practical consequence of this is to constrain, in moderation, the power of the Executive and rein in some of the presidential powers, which will lead to the President acceding to the resolutions of the National Assembly.
“In this scenario, the Executive will have the choice of either accepting the riders or rejecting the entire bill. The practical consequence of this is to constrain in moderation, the power of the Executive”.
According to him, “At the initial stage, the new legislative procedure could lead to a legislative gridlock, but it is not in any way unconstitutional as it is the practice in the United States.
“What we are planning to do by this is simple. If you want us to ensure a speedy executive passage of all bills and resolutions, you must also be willing to do our biddings in some of the resolutions passed in the form of motions.
“The new procedures would merely allow National Assembly to throw its legislative weight behind all resolutions sent to the Executive branch as ‘Riders’. The rider procedure is constitutional and would require no statutory or procedural change to the current Senate/House rules.”
“The whole process is what is called Quid Pro Quo,” the source explained.
For instance, for a start, the source said, in the amendments to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) Act currently before the Senate, the new legislative procedure would rein in the bill for the sake of the BPE Director-General.
THISDAY gathered that the National Assembly is adopting this new legislative process to tie the hands of the Presidency, because quite often, the ministers would argue that the motions and resolutions of the National Assembly are merely persuasive and therefore carry no force of law.
The Senate has already summoned the Information minister to appear before it on Tuesday, September 25 over the alleged uncomplimentary statement.
There is at present a plethora of resolutions passed by the Senate and House of Representatives, which are yet to be implemented by President Jonathan.
Among them are the resolutions passed by the Senate that the BPE Director-General Bola Onagoruwa be sacked and the one in the House that the Director-General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Arunma Oteh be sacked as well.
There are other resolutions passed for instance by the House which included the one asking the Federal Government to compel the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to remit the sum of N450billion to the Federation Account and another in July asking President Jonathan to direct the Attorney-General of the Federation to initiate a review of the ruling of the International Court of Justice on the ownership of Bakassi, which are yet to be implemented by the Executive.
The House Committees on Finance, Petroleum Upstream and Navy conducted a investigation into the operations of the NNPC and its subsidiaries and declared that the NNPC failed to remit the N450billion. This probe and its resolutions were, however, subsumed in the fuel subsidy probe that came shortly after.
The House is also still waiting for President Jonathan to comply with its resolution on the Public Procurement Act.
Investigation by the House had shown that the Act made provision for a council that should supervise the activities of the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP). The bureau has been operating without the statutory supervisory organ since inception.